MONEY

To Be As Debt Free As You Can Be

debt-free

To be as debt-free as you can be is to be as free as you can be. I like the sound of that…

By resisting a lifestyle that consumes all of your ‘pay’, you will be rewarded with a financial freedom that is unknown to most of your friends, your workmates, and most others who have dug themselves into a financial hole.

At first it may seem difficult to forgo the lifestyle of apparent ‘riches’ due to modern marketing and ‘peer pressure’ from those who believe they actually own the assets that they parade around… or those who appear to live life lavishly.

But after awhile you will realize that most of them really actually own little to nothing, and their apparent flourishing lifestyle is all hinged on bank loans and debt. It’s a facade. A front. Many of them are ‘stuck’ and saddled with debts and loans that seemingly go on forever… They are anything but ‘free’ from the system.

Especially if you start young, a financial philosophy of living far BELOW your ‘means’ (your paycheck) will keep money in your pocket instead of owing it all to the bank. It will enable a life of liberation and freedom from the system that is rigged to keep you down.

Here’s how:


 
First, DO NOT be trapped into the marketing ploy of ‘affordable monthly payments’. Nearly everything today is priced in monthly payments rather than the actual full price. So don’t think of things in terms of payments, but think in terms of actual total cost.

If you do choose to take on a loan (e.g. a car loan), buy something that leaves plenty of extra in your budget. Do not even get close to your max. Buy a used car instead of a new car.

In everything that you buy, get into the habit of thinking “Do I really need that?”, and if you do need it, then be frugal about your choices.

Avoid eating out. Make you own meals. Eat leftovers. Make your own coffee.

Stop copying others who are living a life of ridiculous debt. Do not keep up with the Joneses.

Discover ‘thrift stores’. There are lots of bargain stores out there that sell the same items (or used items) as other stores for less. (Again, a frugal theme…)

Discipline yourself. No impulsiveness. Once you allow yourself to ‘give in’, it will happen more often, and the next thing you know you’ll have fallen off the wagon…

Pay cash for things.

 
I’ve posted about this general topic many times in the past (because I feel it’s important). This time I’m emphasizing the simple (but difficult) notion to live way below your means – so that you’ll have plenty left over.

The way ‘the system’ works however is such that it only ‘works’ if people are borrowing money. It is a debt-based monetary system. Ironically, ‘growth’ is ‘more debt’. Some people can manage debt to their advantage, but most people are not able – so be careful…

 
For those who are already saddled with debt, this may be already too late – although don’t lose hope. It will take a lot of work to climb out, but in the end it’s all worth it.

Related Article: (4 Step Plan To Eliminate Credit Card Debt)

Of interest: Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money

 
For those who are not yet ‘sunk’, just don’t fall for the glitz. It’s all designed to enslave you.

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47 Comments

  1. My father got himself into debt early on, and all his life he was robbing Peter to pay Paul. But he recognized that the way to become rich was to have other people pay you to use your money, rather than pay other people to use their money.

    So when I had just turned eleven and got my first babysitting job, he met me at the door when I got home. “Let me see what you earned,” he said. I had 70 cents for two hours work, 2 quarters and 2 dimes. He handed me a homemade piggy bank — a mason jar with a slit cut in the lid and a bunch of tape around the lid so that the jar couldn’t be easily opened.

    “From now on you have to save half of everything you earn,” he said, and I put one quarter and one dime in the jar.

    I continued to do this until it turned out that my dad had to keep “borrowing” the money I’d saved. He was never able to pay me back. After a while I stopped saving. But if I had kept it up, by the time I was old enough to buy a house, (back then you had to be 21 before you could sign a real estate contract) I would have been able to buy a small house free and clear with my savings and interest and avoided mortgages for the rest of my life.

    I’ve always wished that I had kept saving, but just hidden the money in a dresser drawer or someplace instead of that jar. I can’t remember what I spent the money on, but a lot of it was spent on going out to eat with my friends, when I could have eaten at home for free.

    1. By the time I was 13, I had a regular 50 hour per week babysitting job, babysitting for a couple who both worked nights at a local nightclub — 6:00 pm to 4:00 am. I was earning $25/week every week, plus extra if I did any extra babysitting on my nights off or weekend days. (I napped after I got the kids to bed so I could go to school the next day; the parents knew that I was a very light sleeper; I always woke up the minute they put their key in the lock, so they didn’t care. In fact, they went on vacation once and left me with the kids all week.) In addition, I got day jobs in the summer.

      All my living expenses were paid by my parents. I could have saved a lot, but I wasted it all. Back then, you could buy a small house for as little as $5,000 or a used car for a few hundred.

    2. Daisy, i saved once upon a time, then a few failed business adventures, a divorce , a bankruptcy and just life later am now just happy to keep working and have a few nice toys, and a shop full of good tools. It seems every time i ever tried to save something happened and i loose it all. So now i just ramble on, it comes in on one side and goes out the other. Had to get a new truck for working and because i could see major problems with my older vehicles, so i owe i owe its off to work i go!

      1. carpenter:

        That’s the problem with getting behind. My father knew what it took to start out ahead, but he lacked the willpower to leave my money in the jar. He INTENDED to pay it back, he wanted me to start out ahead, but he was always behind.

        If we could teach our children to save, they wouldn’t start out in debt. Once you are in debt, you are always paying interest, late fees, mortgage origination fees, extra insurance, etc. It is very hard to get ahead when 1/4 to 1/2 of your income is going to other people and not toward your own living expenses.

  2. There is practically no better feeling knowing the mortgage is the only debt we have. Once we broke the credit card debt cycle, it has been amazing. It was a struggle to get there, however. Years after riding debt I found out about Dave Howards(?) Book, Financial Peace University. It would sum up all I can tell you about what I would suggest to do.

    I hardly ever would recommend a book, let alone a “help” book, but read this from your library or buy it used on amazon.
    It’s your money my friends!

  3. We live below our means by about half, we did the snowball debt reduction 4-5 years ago and zeroed all debt (cars, credit cards, college loans) it works. We very budget disciplined, multiple pay ourselves bucketing (retirement, house maintenance, each has a my money bucket, emergency fund, etc.) Weekly allowance when it’s gone it’s no dipping for more. Operational expenses (gas, bills, food) a different category, always looking to reduce expenses.

    Next step is to trial run the retirement budget before I pull the work plug. Like many, I look for sales, used or fix before replace.

    Drip brew, no more expensive one cup brews. Pack lunches, the little things add up.

    A lifestyle choice.

    Great article, thanks.

    1. Also, I did much reading on frugal and simple living. I am not into the frugal approach, simple is a different discussion if you ask my DW. ? Reading on both I picked up more ideas and tips to improve our lives.

      1. Too much coffee this a.m., sorry in advance. When done with the snowball approach, the dollars no longer needed to pay debt is dedicated to saving, spending on what is needed, not wanted. Just works for us, we are fortunate to both be full time, right now, plan ahead but who knows what tomorrow brings.

  4. Debit free is liberty. With that said, am about to go back in to debit to build a house. My plan is to have it paid off in 7 years max. We have been debit free for several years and decided now was the time to build.

  5. I don’t remember the last time I bought something full price at a brick and mortar store (except for groceries at Costco). I *LOVE* estate sales, garage sales, and consignment sales.

  6. Was debt free before ever hearing of Ramsey. Two homes, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even two RVs. Have to admit though that after being debt free for 20 years we did buy a new truck for around $50,000 and financed most of it. We could easily write a check for the full amount but the interest rates they are offering today are insane.

    Debt is a tool when used correctly. Many have a negative net worth and far more debt than they should have. We have the truck payment now but it allows us to keep our money invested. If it hits the fan, we can use cash reserves to pay the loan in full.

    I don’t advocate debt, I advocate making wise choices and always having substantial reserves that can easily cover any obligations.

  7. 30 year loan, we bought our first house in the early 80s. We made payments for some 30+ years and one day bingo the house was ours. The rest of the bills started falling off and we live debt free today. I thought that day would never come but it did, we were able to retire and live a very modest life. There’s a lot to be said about living within your means and be content with what you have.

  8. When we were talking of buying our home, we determined what and how much by who made the least money and had to live off that check. We are now debt free, even after losing one income. On the other hand, I know folks who work 3 or 4 jobs between the 2 of them and still can’t see daylight.

  9. Debt is a responsibility and a tool. When you let the tool control you, you’re in an endless spiral that can’t result in anything good.

    I was lucky enough to learn from other people’s mistakes so I never went into debt. Bought my first (and only) car with cash and I use the checking account only for regular expenses. Now I have my mortgage and that’s it.

    This has allowed me to quit my job and live my dream for the last five years. Who knows how long it will last. Faith, right?

  10. Dave Ramsey – Yes. Good things to live by, its simple.
    Now… NEVER EVER Tell people you are debt free. (IMHO)
    Tell them you are broke broke broke. Flat broke living paycheck to paycheck.
    They will never bug your for a “loan” that will Never get paid back.

    The less people know about your finances, the better off you are.
    Its really none of their business anyway.

    So…. Learn the baby steps, put them to good use, pay off your debt, never tell anyone you are debt free, and always claim “Broke”.

    Oh, by the way… I am broke. LoL!
    I’m only on step 2 :)

    1. LOL!!! I agree! We are so broke! The last person to ask me for money got a shocker when I told them that I was hoping they could spot me $50 for some groceries!

  11. my wife has expensive tastes…that is why I keep working and cannot loan people money…my wife takes it all.

    Just Kidding! that is my facade. It works too. My public face is that of the hen-pecked husband. (oh woe is me) People just kinda leave me alone.

    My #1 hobby is embarrassing her in public places. It is fun and not hard to do.

  12. If you own your house, ‘They’ can’t take it.
    If you own your car, ‘They’ can’t take it.
    If you have a job ‘They’ can’t attach your pay.

    So, what’s the downside?

    1. @ RobinHood

      “If you own your house, ‘They’ can’t take it.”…. If you don’t pay the Property Tax or you default on other attached loans they WILL take it.

      “If you own your car, ‘They’ can’t take it.”…. But if you don’t “register it” you cannot use it on the public road system. If you get caught to many times without it registered on the roads, they WILL take it.

      “If you have a job ‘They’ can’t attach your pay.”…. If you don’t pay your bills they can and WILL place a “garnishment” on your wages.

      “So, what’s the downside?”… as long as you keep your “other bills” paid and play the game properly, than No Problem

      But please don’t believe just because you “own” something you actually have no other responsibilities to pay “the man”.

      NRP

      1. That’s why the title reads “To Be As Debt Free As You Can Be” (as you can be).

        I’ll bet RobinHood was talking about banks not being able to take away your home or your car if you own them (which is entirely true and preferable). However, yes, there will always be money owed to .gov for taxes…that’s just the way it will always be.

        1. @ Ken

          Thats true, one is never totally free of some kind of payments. And you’re most likely correct on RobinHood’s meaning by owning.

          NRP

  13. Debt “free” sounds great. I’ll need to try that sometime… HAHAHA

    Unfortunately it’s not always so simple as to just do this or do that as some books and people suggest.

    I have only a small mortgage and one CC I use as revolving credit. Keeping the CC paid every month is the key, I figure why not get those “credits” if you purchase Gas, Food, so-on of 2-3-4%.

    Living “frugal” is also a great idea, until the old truck blows the transmission, or the refer starts to act like an oven. At times like that, use that credit/CC, pay it off ASAP, a month or two, or pay cash if you can. Just don’t deplete your “cash” reserves to much.

    I make it a policy to only keep only enough cash in the Bank to pay monthly bills. Elect, Water, Phone/Internet, basically I do NOT trust Banks, Credit-Unions, or any other institution that has my money in their hot little hands.

    And why for crying out loud would anyone keep money in a Savings and Loan??? 1% interest?? Really?? You would risk losing all of your life’s savings to some corrupt bank for 1%?? And please do NOT get me started on the .gov, the Markets, 401’s, IRA’s or any of that “stuff”. As it’s often said, if you don’t have it in your hand, it’s not yours.

    OHHH yeah, for those of you that keep a lot of cash in the “Bank” that is NOT your money anymore, you have loaned it to the bank as an “Unsecured Loan”. Look it up, and get your money the hell out of their control.

    FYI, debt free, not really, you still owe money on Taxes, Insurances, Medical, Road Use Tax, If not off grid you owe Electrical, Water, Gas, Phone, and anything else you pay the “man” to live.

    Finally I will agree if your income is greater than your outlay, than you can be debt free, Just be smarter that that crooked salesperson trying to get you to buy……………..

    NRP

    1. @NRP; Wow, you like banks, eh? LOL. I am there also. Reading your comment on intrest, I was thinking that I need to bank where you do! It has been a LONG time since we have seen 1% on any of our savings. Yeah, we have some in there, but it is only making like .01% to .03%. What a joke. Would like to empty all of them, but we are hopefully in the process of relocating so a mortgage is in order….Pay that off and then I can reduce their holdings for greenhouse and other preps! Sorry, I meant to say “improvements” to the property not “preps.” Loclyokel

  14. I fell for the credit score myth once many years ago. All of my peers and family members told me that I had to establish a good credit score in order to be approved for big loans for things like homes and cars and if I didn’t have a good score, the banks would not lend me money. They all recommended that I apply for several (4 – 5) credit cards and run up a tab, and faithfully make payments every month on time so I could develop a good score, which I reluctantly did. I always thought that was kind of stupid since I could never see the logic in it but figured it must be true because everybody did it, including close friends and family. When I was young, it was inconceivable to me that I might be right and everybody else was wrong. I woke up one day and realized that the credit card racket was a bunch of manipulative BS put forth by the banking cartel to steal as much money from the common people as they could and keep us in debt slavery. I realized that all I had to do is live below my means and pay cash for stuff and pocket the difference along with all the interest I would otherwise be paying to the banks and I would be able to live a more comfortable and less stressful life. I never said a word to my friends and family members since arguing with a fool makes one a fool. In late 1971 I cut up all my credit cards and paid them off quickly and never looked back. Today I have one CREDIT card which I use for convenience only… it’s paid off every month. Some months there isn’t even a charge on it and I’m surprised the credit card company renews it any more. I have not carried a balance on a credit card since 1971. The amount of money saved from not paying interest on credit cards, home loans and car loans is almost incalculable. My rough guesstimate in savings all told over the last 40 years is in the neighborhood of $300,000.00. Now, it sure is nice to have that $300,000.00 in my pocket to spend rather than the bank cartel’s pocket.

    I realize our current money system is designed to keep us debt slaves and there is nothing I can do about that except stay out of debt and spend wisely and grow as much food as I can and sadly watch the rest of the world crumble around me. Our paper money are debt instruments… It is not money.

    The banking cartel does not like people like me and I’m sure somewhere in their evil think tanks they’ve developed a plan to eventually destroy even us. Just saying. Stay out of debt and keep on preparing.

    1. I have one credit card I never use and a perfect credit score. A few years ago I got a letter from the Bank of Atrocities stating that they had changed their rules and they could now close any account for any reason, including non use of the card.

      I figure if they close it nothing is lost. I think it was a scare tactic.

    2. @CN; Had a car dealership tell us that banks HATE people like us. The ones who pay cash, or pay off loans early, etc. We told them that Hate is a strong word, but we feel just about the same towards them as they do us. And promptly handed over the check for the new vehicle.
      Part of the problem is that it isn’t just the banks, the folks like the dealership make a cut off of that loan, too. It’s not bad enough that they are gouging you for the vehicle to begin with, but they expect you keep paying for the gouging for years!

  15. We finally paid off the last of our debt this year! It’s wonderful to be debt-free. I look at job loss with a whole lot more ease than I used to. With a paid-off house and no debt to hold me down and a decent savings as a cushion it would take a whole lot before we’re in real trouble.

    1. That’s great! It truly is a wonderful and liberating feeling. ‘They’ no longer have control over you ;) You have escaped the system.

  16. if one were to put $2000 each year in a 401k plan for 5 years ($10,000 total) AT AGE 20….at retirement they would have @ $500,000. And thats assuming they put no more in after that!!

    that’s the power of compound interest !

  17. If I did not have to pay taxes and insurance I would be 80% better off. They are my biggest bills by far. The taxes 0n my home have triple in the last five years and the insurance has double in the last ten years, also the sale taxes here are 10.75 percent. Louisiana use to be a cheap state to live in but that has change in the last 5 years. I want to move to another state with less people and less taxes. We are a long ways from being free people.

    1. So true. I totaled up our expenses for insurance and we pay more now than we used to make. Insurance like so many other things is totally out of control.

      1. You might look into tax exemptions. Each state has it’s own version geared toward vets and seniors. Couple of years ago when they put in the houses across from me my taxes had a $700 shortfall at the end of the year. income Oregon has an option of delaying taxes for senior and vets if your income is under a certain amount. It could be an ok deal if you have no one that you want to leave anything to. Looking into it but have not done it but as of now taxes are about 40% of my payment!

  18. CrabbeNebulae

    I agree with you that it is just plain stupid but I did have the bank not renew a line of credit a few years ago and it was mostly due to not having revolving credit show up. I took out a credit card last year and now buy ‘something’ every couple of months, usually a tank of gas and the bank is now happy.

  19. Being debt free is like falling in love— you just feel good all the time!
    There is nothing like it!

  20. I make the bank pay me. I pay off the only ONE card I have in full every time I get the bill. So they PAY ME 3% to give me THEIR money. 3% is better than 1% in a savings account….It’s like they get paid a negative 3% in interest investing in me. They lose. I win.

  21. We refinanced our 30-year mortgage to a 10-year loan with a much lower interest rate because we were determined to pay off the debt as quickly as possible. We cut out several years of mortgage payments as we accelerated our mortgage payments for the 10-year loan. We finally paid off the mortgage balance in June 2015! We had previously paid off all credit card debt and now drive used (and paid for) cars. It is a GREAT feeling to know that we are debt free! Lots of hard work and elimination of useless luxuries (eating out, expensive gifts, annual vacation trips because “I deserve it”, etc.) resulted in financial freedom. We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and Amy Daczycyzn (Tightwad Gazette)!

  22. Tough for me to write much on this because as many here may know we are trying to buy a house in a rural area and we will have to get a loan to do it. So in some ways my post does not apply to this article. But we have both agreed that getting away from populated areas is in our best interest to survive what ever is coming around the corner. However we have a set amount we are willing to pay monthly and we are not going above that. Even though the banks have approved us for way over that. Not gonna happen!

    But with that aside we have been working on paying off CC and any other debt. My truck is 9 yrs old and has been paid off for 5 yrs. Only have 1 1/2 yrs on the wife’s and then it’s done. I could use a larger vehicle for my job but I make do. We don’t go on expensive vacations, buy stuff to stay up with others. We do eat out more than we need to and we’re getting better with that.

    The hardest part is to make sure we are prepared (food,etc) and not go crazy even though here lately we want to go crazy with preps and screw the budget.

    Paid off a CC last month and planning to put a big dent on another one later this month. It’s a baby steps kind of thing. We look forward to getting rid of all debt except a house payment and then hammer that down.

    Before I remarried I only had a truck and house payment. It felt great when I looked in my safe and saw cash stacked. But things change (for the better, met my wife and had our son) and debt caught up to us.

    All the comments I read are an inspiration to us. Congrats to all you that have become debt free. We will be joining the club eventually.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  23. In regards to comments on Insurance:
    A good friend of mine ran a business in New Orleans selling rides through the swamp on his 8 Airboats. Katrina came along (How long ago was that?) and demolished them all. Fortunately, he had hem insured for just such a thing.
    Unfortunately, the Insurance Co., due to the huge amount of Claims at the time, offered him 10 Cents on the Dollar for his loss. He refused and sued.

  24. To continue:

    He’s still waiting to collect.
    Good Luck on collecting when a large scale disaster hits.
    I understand that New Yorkers,from Storm Sandy, are still waiting.

  25. The road to wealth for most people isn’t one big score.

    The road to wealth involves making lots of small decisions correctly. It varies from your morning coffee, to your fast food lunch, your take out dinner, the clothes you wear and combined with the car you drive and the house you live in.

    Lots of small but correct decisions will eliminate and/or control debt and then the wealth building begins, one little step at a time.

    Start with saving one penny for every dollar you make. Increase that by one penny every month and at the end of the year you will be saving 12% of your income.

    Some of the comments above have inspired this advice. Not to single out any one person, but most of those that rail against the system, will continue to do so until the day they die (in poverty). Learn to use the system, and manage it to your advantage rather than just complain about it.

  26. One primary point for my wife and I was to constantly distinguish between “WANT & “NEED” . There is a BIG difference between the two .We have developed the habit of asking ourselves , do we want it or do we need it ? It has been a good step for us .
    Another step was reduce going to restaurants by about 90% . A good dinner with a glass of wine each will cost us about $ 45.00 in our area . That will also buy 50# of hard red wheat for our storage . We only go to dinner now for a special occasion .
    We also keep minimum amounts in checking accounts . As was mentioned before , you are never debt free : taxes , insurance , license tabs , utilities , etc . We keep enough cash to cover those costs for a year .
    We are all in different circumstances so different things will work for each one of us .

  27. We have been debt free for 10 years, no mortgage, no car payments, no credit card bill carried over one month in about 7 years, no water bill, no sewage bill, no electric bill. It’s wonderful.
    BUT oh wait… the tax on our house has gone up over 10% per year the last 5 due to the town raising the mill rate, just a reminder that we only rent our homes from the government. Damn that right and naturally have to pay the tax man on my motorcycle,car, and sailboats.
    So I suppose really there is no modern way to be fully debt free. :(

  28. We live mostly debt free. Only use credit card to buy off internet. Even took some of our cash to pay property taxes up to 2019 in case there is a bail-in. Most hotels want a credit card so they can bill you for damages but when I forgot my code one time they will accept double cash & give the extra back when you are leaving with no damage. Often I get a surprised look when they said “will that be debit or credit card” & I say “cash” even for small amounts. It is such a good feeling not to be hassled like some people I know.